Listen to Bob Dylan’s full Nobel Prize lecture

"Songs are unlike literature. They’re meant to be sung, not read”

Bob Dylan finally delivered his Nobel Prize lecture this past weekend.

The singer-songwriter accepted the Nobel Prize in Literature while in Sweden back in April, but did not deliver the lecture that was required in order to claim his 8 million kroner (£725,000) prize money. Yesterday (June 4), the speech was given in the form of a 30-minute recording, tracing the literary and musical influences behind his work.

Among them, Buddy Holly (who Dylan saw shortly before his death) is cited as a key musical influence, while he also claims to have been inspired by classic novels Moby Dick, All Quiet on the Western Front, and The Odyssey. 

In conclusion, Dylan states the following: “Our songs are alive in the land of the living. But songs are unlike literature. They’re meant to be sung, not read. The words in Shakespeare’s plays were meant to be acted on the stage. Just as lyrics in songs are meant to be sung, not read on a page. And I hope some of you get the chance to listen to these lyrics the way they were intended to be heard: in concert or on record or however people are listening to songs these days. I return once again to Homer [character in The Odyssey], who says, ‘Sing in me, oh Muse, and through me tell the story.’”

The media-shy Dylan was announced as the recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature back in October of last year, but did not acknowledge as much for over two weeks. He did not attend the prize giving ceremony back in December, with Patti Smith performing in his stead.

Bob Dylan recently completed an arena tour of the UK and Europe. He tours America and Canada in June and July.